My name is Beth Terry, and I live in Oakland, CA. In June of 2007, while recovering from surgery, I read the article and saw the photo that changed my life. The article was entitled, “Our Oceans Are Turning Into Plastic… Are We?” and the photo showed the carcass of a dead sea bird, its belly full of plastic pieces: bottle caps, cigarette lighters, even a toothbrush. I looked at my own life and realized that through my unconscious overconsumption, I was personally contributing the the suffering of creatures I hadn’t even known existed.
That week, I committed to stop buying new plastic, and a passion and blog were born: My Plastic-free Life (known originally as Fake Plastic Fish.)
I’ve been blogging away here ever since, collecting and tallying my own plastic waste (in 2011, my plastic waste was 2% of the U.S. average) and researching plastic-free alternatives (see my ongoing Plastic-Free Guide). I enjoy reviewing alternative products from ethical companies. Please see my Advertising/Review/PR policy for more information.
Personal responsibility is crucial, and I don’t believe we can solve our plastic problem without it. But even greater results are achieved when consumers come together to demand change from the corporations that produce the stuff. From the beginning, I took the time to write and call companies asking for less plastic packaging. And in 2008, I spearheaded a massive campaign, Take Back The Filter, to ask Clorox to take back its plastic Brita water filter cartridges for recycling, as was already being done by the Brita company in Europe. The campaign was a success for all involved, and Brita filters can now be recycled in the U.S. and Canada.
Living with less plastic is really not as hard as it seems, but our awareness of disposable plastic in our lives can be transformative. To that end, I threw down the gauntlet and invited readers to collect and tally their own plastic waste for a week and upload the results to a new Show Your Plastic Trash web site. How can we know where we need to go if we don’t know where we are to begin with? Solving the plastic pollution problem will require more than individual personal actions. But individual actions and personal awareness are essential for creating the kind of world in which we want to live and the impetus to spark bigger actions.
I enjoy giving presentations on living with less plastic and why, despite what critics sometimes say, our personal actions do make a difference.
Plastic Free Book
June 2012 saw the release of my first book, Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too (Skyhorse), a practical guide to ridding your life of plastic. The book was so successful that the publisher released an updated version in 2015 with a brand new chapter and foreword by the musician Jack Johnson. Read more about the book and order your copy here.
Other places you’ll find me ranting about plastic around the web:
Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I’m a lot preachier than I mean to be, and afterwards I feel like a jerk. Really, I’m no different from anyone else who cares about the planet.
Feel free to contact me directly.